Latest developments from the Lanner egg in our laboratory

Today we have very sad news: the wild lanner falcon egg in our incubator failed to hatch. Here’s the background story for those who haven’t followed our latest updates.

A wild Lanner egg in our captive breeding lab: background

In March, LIPU Livorno (CRUMA) rescued a wild female Lanner. She was unable to fly due to a wounded wing, possibly as a result of an attack by a Peregrine falcon. As we reported then, the falcon surprised everyone by laying an egg while in the rescue centre. She was sadly unable to hatch it, and the two had to be separated. The mother needed to recover from her injury, and the egg needed proper incubation. For this reason, and by virtue of the preexisting collaboration between LIFE Lanner and LIPU, the egg was transported to the wildlife rescue centre of Lake Vico Natural Reserve. In fact, just before the start of the breeding season, Lake Vico set up their new captive breeding laboratory, equipped with all the necessary technology to ensure successful incubation and brooding of young Lanners.

Cutting-edge technology for safe incubation and brooding

The wildlife rescue centre of Lake Vico Natural Reserve is rather unique in its ability to care for Lanner falcons and their eggs. Thanks to the LIFE Lanner project, we have been able to equip it with one of the most advanced incubators available on the market, which we mentioned in detail here. The incubator offers an environment where temperature, humidity and air supply are finely tuned according to the egg’s needs. Moreover, the lab has a hot chamber for chick brooding and an Egg Monitor, which is a specialized instrument to check for egg fertility. The Egg Monitor detects embryo state by sensing its heart rate from inside the egg. During the last 5-6 days before hatching, it can also sense chick movement. Since it does so without heat radiation, this procedure is safe for the developing chick inside the shell. It’s not common to find such equipment in rescue centres, and we’re proud to the able to offer this kind of technology for wildlife recovery and conservation.

Latest developments for our lanner egg

The wild Lanner egg was put in our incubator on March 12, and has since been constantly monitored by Lake Vico personnel. After the 33th day of incubation, we started checking the egg with our Egg Monitor while keeping it in the incubator. On April 21, sadly, the egg stopped showing a heart beat. The egg was then opened to evaluate the state of the embryo. The foetus died on the 37th day of incubation and showed delayed development. In fact, its dimensions were akin to a healthy embryo of just 20 days. Even if it had completed developping, its position inside the egg would not have allowed successful hatching. Both egg and embryo have been made available to the IZSLT (Experimental Zooprophylactic Institute of Lazio and Tuscany), which will analyze and add it to its genetic database.

It’s a disappointment to have lost this chance to grow this specimen and then release it safely, but we believe the attempt was necessary and perfectly consistent with our conservation goals. Unluckily, even the most finely controlled conditions are not always enough to ensure complete success.

The Lanner egg was opened after it stopped to show any sign of life.